Mahagatbandhan isn’t a novelty to our 71 year old democracy

2019 Lok Sabha elections are a few months away. The Modi wave that swept the country in the 2014 general elections will try to replicate the mammoth of a victory once again. The Opposition, however are keen to stop this juggernaut.

The swearing-in ceremony of the newly appointed Karnataka CM H.D.Karunaswamy is an indicator to the opposition unity. It was a rare photo opportunity showcasing the unification of almost all anti-BJP forces.

Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Bannerjee, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati, CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav graced the occasion.

Among others were the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Andra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan along with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

This supposed Mahagatbandhan (Grand Alliance) isn’t a novelty to our 71 year old democracy.

We shall take a look at the grand alliances in the past.

1971 – Indian National Congress had split forming an INC (O) headed by K.Kamaraj and Morarji Desai who formed a National Democratic Front along with Bhartiya Jan Sangh among others but this alliance failed to the charisma of Indira Gandhi who was then at the peak of her popularity. Her campaign was focused on ‘Garibi Hatao’ and the Indians responded; securing her a landslide victory with 352 seats.

1977 – This Post Emergency election was the first time that the Congress had lost its control. Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi both lost their seats. The Opposition had united against the Congress calling for a restoration of democracy. The Janta Dal formed an alliance with CPI (M), Shiromani Akali Dal and others to form a coalition with 345 seats. Morarji Desai became the first Non-Congress Prime Minister.

1989 – Bofors scam had rocked Rajiv Gandhi and the opposition targeted the Congress on the very issue. V.P.Singh of the Janta Dal formed a National Front with diverse spectrum of parties such as the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)  and Asom Gana Parishad with outside support from the BJP and CPI (M).

1996,1998,1999– The General Elections held in 1996 resulted in a hung parliament with neither the Congress nor the BJP securing the mandate. A United Front of the Non-Congress and the Non-BJP forces was created with a support of 332 members of parliament and H.D.Deve Gowda from Janta Dal became the Prime Minister.

However, the government collapsed and re-elections were held in 1998 and BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee gained support of 286 members to become the Prime Minister.

In 1999, the BJP formed a National Democratic Alliance with a coalition of over 20 parties and Vajpayee became the Prime Minister once again.

2004– The INC was able to put together the majority of 335 members and form the United Progressive alliance (UPA) with external support from the BSP, SP, Kerala Congress and the Left front after being out of office for a record 8 years.

Current Situation:

The Uttar Pradesh by-polls where the once bitter rivals, BSP’s Mayawati and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav joined forces to defeat the BJP in their own kingdom of Gorakhpur, Phulpur and now Kairana is a testament of opposition strength and unity.

Telgu Desam Party’s Chandrababu Naidu has walked out of the NDA. YSR Congress have filed a No-Confidence motion against the BJP. The Shiv-Sena is constantly at war with the BJP,  The Shiromani Akali Dal, Lok Janshakti Party also seems upset with the Big Brother attitude of the BJP.

The power is supposed to be concentrated with only a few BJP leaders and others are not even taken into consideration. There is a supposedly a strong sense of discomfort in the lower ranks of the BJP. Their own leaders Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha (former union minister, now resigned) are spewing venom on their own party leaders.

This is the strongest chance the opposition has ever had to go head on with the BJP with the issues of faliure of demonetization, the hasty implementation of GST, Agrarian crisis, scams, rapes, murders, communalism, question on freedom of speech, privacy, rising fuel prices, rising Hindutva and many others.